Listening Well

Yesterday I was sitting at the kitchen counter working on a writing piece. The barstool beside me became more like a revolving door for the kids. One would sit down, share about their school day and I would listen. Then another would come and pour out their heart. One had a story that needed my assistance in writing down, so that was pretty entertaining. One by one they came and I listened. They were not looking for answers or for me to fix anything, just listen. My words could wait, but theirs could not.

IMG_6874Do you spend much time listening? It takes time, patience and self control. It means setting aside your expectations and answers. As a mom, we want to fix things, correct or help. Sometimes though we can come across as having it all figured out and we forget what it was like to be a child. Part of growing up is learning to figure things out on our own, but having a parent near by to listen is reassuring. We can run the risk of them not coming to us if we have correction ready and closed ears. Who will they find to listen?

Listening does not end with our kids. It carries on as a wonderful skill in friendships as well. Do you have friends who listen to you? Do you have friends you listen to? I will confess that I have failed at times with being a good listening friend. The Lord convicted my heart about this and I am working on it. The verse that comes to mind is, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19). Oh, the times we could avoid having to pull our foot out of our mouth, so to speak, if we would obey God’s word.

Can you even imagine what life would be like if we actually implemented this simple verse? I think about the words that would stop flying at the referee’s during our daughters basketball games. I think about the angry social media posts and responses that would stop. The horrible, disrespectful bashing of our President would come to an end. The hateful words against the opposite party would cease. In my opinion, these comments are just an accepted outlet for anger. I always wonder what lies below the surface. What hurt has not been healed, that makes one so angry? Quite possibly people have never felt heard, so this is your chance on social media.

What about another approach? The unraveling of a broken heart will take time and possibly money. Therapists, which I am thankful for, are paid great deals of money to listen. They listen, with notebook in hand, then ask questions. They listen to the answers, ask more questions and you end up knowing the answer to your hurt all along. It just takes someone willing to listen to get to the bottom of the heart issue. So, I wonder if we could keep our kids out of therapist offices if we would listen to them now? Maybe we could save our friends some money if we actually listened.

If you have good friends or grown up kids, do you listen and ask them questions or is always one-sided? If you are listening, are you already forming a response before they finish speaking? Then you are not listening. Do you have a solution to every problem or do you let the other person unravel just a bit of their heart? Just something to ponder.

I’m thinking these well trained therapist are on to a beautiful technique. Maybe our kids and friends hearts can be in better shape after they spend time with us. I say we ask the Lord to give us ears that actually hear and a tongue that remains silent more. Minimize quick corrections that do not really matter, ask a few more questions and allow time for conversation. I bet you will be amazed at what you learn. You might actually become someone that is sought after because everyone needs a listening ear at times.

So, I pray this year we become better listeners. Better at listening to God and obeying His Word. Better at being slow to speak, quicker to listen and very slow to getting angry. May our social media posts help, not hurt and our sporting events echo with cheers. I just know we will be happier because this is God’s idea, not mine.

*Picture of Eli having a lightbulb moment in the Walmart parking lot!





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